Last night, millions of Americans were glued to their flat screen televisions as the opening debate took place between the GOP candidates on Fox News. As I watched a few minutes of the replay this morning, I was reminded of the privilege that we have today that people in the first century church did not have, the opportunity to participate in electing leaders and thus influencing a nation. We are a blessed people indeed to even be able to participate in the process.
More importantly, I was reminded of a crucial truth for Christians to remember when it comes to this world and its system: "Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence." - John 18:36
Jesus stated plainly to Pilate when being asked if His intention was to rule in an earthly kingdom, that His kingdom was not of this world. In other words, His intention was not to set up an earthly kingdom when He came the first time, His kingdom was and is today a spiritual kingdom. One day it will be a literal kingdom and we long and anticipate for that day! But for now, how should I as a Christian view the political system of this world and what should my reaction be to all the noise around me over the next months?
1. Preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ by word and testimony.
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first and also to the Greek." - Romans 1:16
Paul lived in a Roman world but preached a message that transcended the Roman culture, Jewish culture, and the Greek culture, He preached the Gospel. We must remember that we have not been commissioned to make Republicans, Independents, or Democrats. We have been commissioned by our Lord to make disciples.
In eternity, the most important issue will not be how someone voted, but it will matter what they did with Jesus Christ. As Christians, we cannot get so focused on the issues of politics that we begin to preach a social and political gospel and forget about THE GOSPEL! It is a shame that many have become more enamored with a faltering, failing, and futile political process than the eternal, glorious, and life-changing gospel of Jesus! We must keep the priorities right, especially during the political season.
Angry rhetoric, tones, and statements made on social media by God's people are not helping the message of the gospel. This may help win an argument, but will isolate from using social media for what it should be used for, the gospel of Jesus going further! The abililty to argue the finer points of politics is going to burn up eventually, but the eternal value of a soul that comes to Christ will matter! Preach the gospel as the real answer for hope and change!
2. Vote for as much salt and light as possible.
"Ye are the salt of the earth: .... Ye are the light of the world. ...." - Matthew 5:13-14
When we actually do vote for a candidate, (yes you should vote and shame on you if you do not!) we are not calling a pastor, we are electing a politician. When I want a guy to catch dogs in my neighborhood, my first statement is not "Give me your religious background." My first question is: "Do you catch dogs well?" As Christians, we must remember that our politicians are not always going to be Bible-believers, if they are, fantastic!
When I vote for a candidate, there are two moral issues that I believe will preserve our nation just a little longer:
1. The issue of marriage and family. (One man, one woman, one lifetime)
2. The issue of life. (Life begins at conception and is therefore sacred and should be protected while in the womb of the mother.)
If a candidate is right in every other area but wrong in these two areas, he will not receive my vote and should not receive the vote of any other Bible-believing Christian. If you do not know what the party platform on which your candidate stands holds to in regard to these moral issues, do the research and find out! Each Christian will be held accountable for their influence and your vote is influence, use it to speak out for the biblical family and the biblical view of life!
3. Prioritize the eternal over the temporal.
"For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ." - Philippians 3:20
While it is important that we be salt and light and that we vote on moral issues, it is much more important that our confidence is not in a temporal political system. Political systems cannot change lives and communities, the gospel of Christ can! While we should vote, participate, and engage in the political system, our world should not collapse if our candidate is not elected. Likewise, we should not find some euphoric glee as if Christ's kingdom has come to earth if our candidate is elected. We should remember that Jesus' "kingdom is not of this world" and therefore our hope is not in this temporal kingdom but in His eternal one!
So please vote, but trust and pray to the only One who can bring real change.
Participate, sure! But do not forsake His eternal work to pursue a temporal one.
Promote a candidate? Why not! But promote Jesus and His gospel as the only thing that can change the heart of people.
Argue, debate, and get angry at friends, colleagues, and strangers? Let it go. Let the world behave that way, but let each of us show Christ even in a time of political turmoil! That will matter much more one day than our candidate winning or losing!